We were on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when it happened. I needed a book. Something I could sink into and really enjoy. During an earlier cruise ship walk, we’d come across the Library Bar and I couldn’t wait to go back and check out a book. It was a lovely library bar though I would have much preferred a library coffee bar as I’m not one for the smell of alcohol, let alone the taste. But this would do. It had books in it; it would definitely be okay.
Anyway, there were plenty of books. They were so pretty, housed in lovely glass fronted cabinets that went from floor to ceiling. Each cabinet had a cute little key hole in it, which I assumed were just part of the case. Never would I have guessed they were being used.
But they were. Every last one of them. I could not get to the books. All I could do was tilt my head to the side and read the titles off the spines of the books. I couldn’t touch them. I couldn’t read the inside flaps of the book jackets. I couldn’t read the backs of the paperback books. There was no way for me to flip through the pages or smell the paper.
My anxiety went from 0 to 60 as I contemplated picking the locks. My fingers twitched and my hands started to itch. I’d read somewhere that stress causes eczema to flare up. The writer of that article was not kidding. I began to think the cruise ship staff combined the alcohol bar with the library to calm down the anxious patrons who couldn’t get to their precious books!
It was cool though. I hid my feelings. It was easy. My husband already knows what kind of a strange person I am, so he wandered over to the computer and pretended he didn't know me. The librarian held the keys hostage at the bar so she couldn’t see me. All I wanted was a book.
Finally, I was able to determine based on only the spines of the books that there were a couple that looked like they would do. Come on, I’m not the only one out there who judges a book by its cover. But judging by the spine and the title…it was the best I could do.
I wandered back to the bartender/librarian and looked at her. She was so smug and self-righteous.
“Can I help you?”
Um, yeah. You can unlock the books. Let them free! They don’t deserve to be treated like this and come to think of it –neither do I!
But what I really said was “I’d like to look at some books please.”
She picked up her hefty sized key ring and followed me back to the book cases (book shelves?) where I’d been judging by the spines of books.
“Which one would you like to see?”
Every last one of them. And your head on a platter for behaving so outlandishly toward books. Books that have never done anything to you to deserve this kind of treatment.
All of a sudden I couldn’t find a single title that looked familiar. It was as if the books were in cahoots with this lady and had all changed their titles when I’d left the room. I had no choice but to point and hope for the best.
“I’m not sure which one exactly, but maybe something in this case and that one over there.”
She gave me the once over and must have decided I couldn't possibly stuff a book under my sundress without it being obvious and unlocked two cases. She walked back to her station and left me alone with the precious books.
My heart rate slowed and my breathing returned to normal. It’s a good thing they have medical staff on cruise ships for things like this.
I caressed the books and re-read the titles. Occasionally I pulled one out to look at it just to prove that I could. It was bliss. My husband, pretending even more like he didn't know me, stayed at the computer.
In the end, I chose one book. Just one. Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard. A YA novel that was okay. It probably would have been better if I had started reading at the beginning of the series, but beggars can’t be choosers.
We were somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. I didn't know where, but I did have a book.